Worship in the Scarred Lands has real and immediate consequences. It was only a century-and-a-half ago that the gods' avatars walked the land, contesting the titans for supremacy, while mortal races sided with the gods or titans and fought at their feet.
With such colossal events in recent history, religious practice is never a matter of rote ritual or prayers mumbled to an unresponsive heaven. Certainly the most audacious displays of divine might occur when the gods allow their divine power to flow through chosen saints and champions, granting these mortals the strength to perform miracles. The gods respond regularly to any of their worshipers, however, whether favorably or not. The smith who fails to have his forge blessed to Corean finds that his ironwork shatters under the hammer. The doctor who fails to draw wards on her medicines, displaying the proper fear and respect for Vangal, invites plague upon herself and her patients. Madriel's voice resounds like a deafening wind through a temple of farmers who fail to pray for a good harvest. The gods and goddesses of the Scarred Lands make their presence known daily across the world.
The intelligent races of the Scarred Lands openly worship the eight major deities, and the sole remaining titan: Denev, the Earth Mother. Though these deities have begotten many lesser demigods and goddesses who are also worshipped, these nine are venerated or appeased above all others.
The very picture of the paladin's ideal, Corean is an unflinching crusader among the gods. He has the strength of mountains, and his smoky armor reflects his ties to the earth and the metals that run through it. He bears a long sword that he forged himself from scraps gleaned from a titan's forge -- that of Golthagga, who was the first to taste the blade's edge. Corean is generally unwilling to compromise, although he usually errs on the side of compassion rather than on the side of law. Many people praise him as the ideal of virtue, although more people pay lip service to him than are willing to live up to his standards.
Madriel flies on wings of peacock feathers, an armored angel with a spear formed from the purest, whitest sunlight. Although relentless in her struggle against suffering (and particularly against her rival Belsameth), she is the most merciful and compassionate of the gods. Her temples are popular across the Scarred Lands, particularly in areas where people pray for fertility to return to their fields.
Of all the gods, Tanil is most likely to spend some of her time quietly walking the face of the Scarred Lands. However, this doesn't make her sociable -- she prefers back roads and untrodden wilderness to highways and villages. The ultimate champion of the underdog, she is the queen of archery and stealth, generally favored by rogues, bards, and wayfarers. She appears as a lithe archer wearing flexible bronze armor. Her arrows are silver-tipped, as she dislikes the poor treatment of animals and considers the world's werebeasts an insult. Many elves venerate her; her other servants include dryads and unicorns.
The Lawgiver is keeper of all the things that civilized beings have learned, and is the patron of society itself. He is the ultimate impartial judge, striving to make certain that each person receives what he or she has earned -- for good or ill. He's commonly shown as a stern man in somber robes, crowned with gold and wielding a massive two-handed hammer. He is particularly popular among dwarves, mages, prosperous merchants, and regional governments, and is the patron of many cities -- foremost of which, of course, is Hedrad.
The only surviving titan, Denev sided with the gods -- in particular, her children -- against her brothers and sisters who ravaged Scarn. However, the long battle left even more wounds on the world's surface, driving her to retreat to its heart in frustration and fatigue. She still answers prayers from those who venerate her, and is honored by the other gods. She is not a generous or merciful mother, though; she respects nature at its bloodiest as well as at its most beautiful. She is rarely depicted in humanlike form. Tales paint her as a mountain range or forest come to life, although she is said to wield a stone sickle when roused to make war. She is venerated by cults of druids who stubbornly refuse to pray to any of the newcomer gods, and by many elementals and other spirits of the land.
The real wild card of the gods, Enkili can't really be said to be on anyone's side -- not even his own. His tempestuous and stormy personality is mirrored in each freak storm or sudden calm. He commonly shapeshifts from form to form, even changing gender so regularly that no two temples portray the same image of him -- or her. As the trickster figure of the pantheon, he also gets into trouble far more often than any divine being should. When he uses a weapon, he commonly wields a thunderbolt-hurling flail that lashes so wildly that others doubt it is truly under his control.
Tyrant among gods, Chardun exemplifies the worst traits of the most despotic generals, emperors, and masters. His weapon is a golden mace-like scepter, stained deeply with blood. He wears the white regalia of a conquering hero, but his robes and sandaled feet are splattered with blood and dusted with powdered bone. He is particularly venerated by militaristic people with powerful ambitions, but anyone who craves domination is a worthy follower. A general who seeks a throne or a man who covets absolute obedience from his woman are both near to Chardun's black heart.
The vulture-winged goddess Belsameth is the incarnation of everything people fear about the night. Her basalt throne sits on the dark side of the moon; her power over the moon grants her command of lunacy, and makes her the patron goddess of Scarn's werebeasts. Her preferred weapon is a jet-black dagger, and she is favored by evil sorcerers and witches, Scarn's harpies, wily and murderous goblins, and of course by werewolves and their like.
The volcano-god Vangal is the very embodiment of war. He is commonly depicted as a huge charioteer in filth-covered armor, with beard and dreadlocks matted with blood. He wields two massive axes still encrusted with the blood of the titans he overcame. He has few human followers, as it's said that when he gains sufficient power he'll bring about the destruction of Scarn itself. The few cults dedicated to him, called the Horsemen, are much-dreaded doomsayers and warriors.
Last modified: 2001-May-31 20:06:10
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